Zobrist headed to DL; Orvella and Birkins too
INF Ben Zobrist appears headed to the disabled list - and thus Elliot Johnson to the opening day roster - after Monday's exam showed that Zobrist's fractured left thumb had not improved enough for him to resume playing.
"It's not fully healed yet,'' Zobrist said. "It's just a waiting game from here on out.''
There's been nothing official yet from the Rays, but Zobrist hasn't been able to swing a bat since the injury on March 9, and is going to need at least several days of at-bats to get ready, which means he'll likely have to make a minor-league rehab appearance. His next checkup isn't until next Monday - and it isn't in Baltimore.
"This type of thing, it just takes a while,'' Zobrist said. "And you don't want to rush it because if you do, there is a chance of displacing it, and then you have to get a pin put in it and everything else.''
With Zobrist out, it appears to clear a space for Johnson, whose strong play (.463 average, .511 on-base percentage, 1.145 OPS) has been one of the stories of the spring for the Rays.
Johnson, who hit .207 at Durham last season, would fill Zobrist's role as the "super utilityman,'' playing wherever needed in the infield and outfield.
Earlier manager Joe Maddon said it was "more than likely" that relievers Chad Orvella (right shoulder) and Kurt Birkins (left elbow) would also open the season on the DL. Neither figured to make the squad.
And that's in addition to LHP Scott Kazmir and OF Rocco Baldelli, who are also both expected to be placed on the DL. Teams can backdate a 15-day DL move to March 21 and players can be active by April 5.